With the hit television show, “Orange is the New Black” and Diane Sawyer’s primetime special, “A Nation of Women Behind Bars” the conversation surrounding female incarceration has undoubtedly expanded. The increase in incarcerated women is no recent phenomenon. Between 1977 and 2007, the number of women in prison or jail in the U.S. increased more than 832 percent—twice the rate (416 percent) men experienced. In fact, the United States has more than 200,000 women serving sentences, which is the largest female prisoner population on earth.
While we may have a better glimpse of prison life for women in general, there’s been less of a focus on the overrepresentation of women of color in the criminal justice system. Two-thirds of women in prison are women of color (which includes many racial groups not categorized as white). Black women are three to four times more likely to be incarcerated than white women and Latinas are 69 percent more likely to be imprisoned. Read on for more powerful statistics, facts, and figures about women of color in U.S. prisons and jails.